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Beating the isolation blues

Care home residents sing praises of video chats with our employees


It was very touching and made me realize that we can make a difference to people’s lives by doing the simplest of things

Living in isolation can impact people in many different ways, but it can have a particular effect on the elderly.

That’s why our AkzoNobel colleagues in Brazil have been making an extra effort to help the residents of a care home for elderly women located in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.

The largest institution of its kind in Brazil, the home is known as Grandma’s House and looks after nearly 200 elderly residents. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, visitors aren’t currently allowed.

So our Brazilian colleagues decided to give the residents a boost and cheer them up at a time when many have been feeling isolated and alone.

“Social interaction is very important, especially for the elderly, so we organized an internal campaign and invited employees to talk to some of the residents,” explains Elaine Poço, Technical Director for the company’s Decorative Paints business in South America, who is also responsible for our “Let’s Colour” program in the region.

“Technology makes it possible for us to break down social distancing barriers, so we asked for volunteers to help bring them some joy and friendship.”

The response was immediate, with dozens of employees volunteering to take part during the two weeks of the initiative. Employees were able to choose from a series of 30-minute time slots, and it’s clear that the experience benefited everyone involved.

“The lady I spoke to has been living in the home for 35 years, but her family stopped visiting her ten years ago,” explains AkzoNobel Administrative Coordinator, Roseli Franchi. “In fact, the conversation we had was such an important moment for her that she even dressed up specially for the occasion. It was very touching and made me realize that we can make a difference to people’s lives by doing the simplest of things.”

Alexander Paz, who is responsible for the Automotive Technical Center at one of the company’s Vehicle Refinishes sites, decided to share the experience with his family.

“I spoke to a very nice lady called Werna, who is 91,” he says. “My wife and my two children also took part in the video call and they loved it. We spoke about our personal stories and we sang together. It was so nice, that we spent far longer on the call than we expected.”

As well as talking to the residents, employees were also given the opportunity to have donations sent from one of several local supermarkets that make deliveries to the home. More than 1,000 items have been sent, including food, cleaning and personal care products.

This wasn’t the first time that our Brazil organization has been involved with Grandma’s House.  Last year, employees helped to renovate the home as part of the ten-year anniversary of our global “Let’s Colour” initiative. At the end of 2019, an internal Christmas campaign was also organized, when employees were invited to send gifts to the residents who live there.

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